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Spas add cuisine to their menus to become all-day destination draws

Spas in Singapore are offering hearty meals and facilities such as saunas to turn their establishments into a lifestyle destination

With a $38 entry ticket, you can spend an entire day at the Yunomori Onsen & Spa at Kallang Wave Mall.

Choose from 11 hot pools to soak in inside the 16,000 sq ft establishment and, for an extra fee, opt for additional treatment options such as traditional Thai and foot massages.

And if you get hungry from all the pampering, there is a full-fledged eatery called Yunomori Cafe for you to refuel.

On the menu are more than 30 items ranging from udon to donburi (rice bowls) to kakigori (a Japanese shaved ice dessert).

In fact, food, especially of the hearty, full-meal variety, is becoming a feature in several spas here.

Unlike in typical spas where patrons might sip on tea or nibble on a light post-massage bite, customers at these places can hang out for hours at a stretch, enjoying facilities such as saunas and jacuzzis and have a full meal if they feel like it.

Yunomori onsen is one of three in Singapore offering meals from fullyequipped kitchens to patrons on top of their regular spa treatments.

The other two are g.spa in Guillemard Road and Calla Spa in Suntec City.

Though they are run by the same person, spa veteran Mr Gary Tang, they are positioned to meet the needs of different demographics, says Mr Joseph Goh, 30, marketing manager for both spas.

"Over the years, g.spa has attracted businessmen and families while Calla Spa is mostly frequented by shoppers, tourists and executives working in the Central Business District," he says.

But what they have in common is a free-flow dining area.

At g.spa, you can tuck into local delights such as nasi lemak, chicken rice or laksa.

At the more upmarket Calla Spa, fine-dining fare, including grilled ribeye with wasabi brown sauce and wild mushroom soup with truffle oil, is served in a casual bistro setting. The menus for both spas change weekly.

Including food into the mix is part of positioning the spas as one-stop lifestyle hubs, says Mr Goh. He adds that all guests make a stop at the dining areas.

To enter Calla Spa, guests pick from one of three basic packages that start from $29 for a two-hour period.

The lowest-priced package includes a free flow of certain food items and unlimited use of the mineral pool, sauna, steam room and relaxation lounge. There are add-on treatments too.

At g.spa, guests either go for the standard rate of $68 to use the basic facilities or select a spa treatment (which start from $130). To sweeten the deal, all guests can stay up to 24 hours.

Over at Yunomori Onsen & Spa, the cafe is open to non-guests too. In fact, a small percentage of diners come for the food only, says general manager Yuya Egawa, 46.

He adds that the cafe is part of the quintessential onsen experience in Japan. "After taking a bath in the onsen, people get hungry and want to have a meal."

The onsen and spa started its first branch in Bangkok in 2012 and the Singapore one opened in late May this year and is a joint venture by local companies Onsen Retreat And Spa and Japanese lifestyle company Komars Group, which runs the Ramen Champion chain.

Prices for a meal at the 35-seater Yunomori cafe start from $8 for a bowl of cold Hiyashi udon or soba.

Teaching consultant Jasmine Tan, 38, who has visited the onsen twice, treats it as a one-stop escape destination.

She says: "I can have a bath, a massage, eat, read and even do my work here as it's quieter and the space is big."

It was the food offerings at g.spa that attracted sales and event manager Jess Chong, 32, and her husband to spend a weekday there.

She says: "The food makes it more worthwhile and convenient as we can have our meals in the spa and spend a longer period there."


Where to eat spa cuisine

First popularised in the 1980s, spa cuisine refers to light and healthy meals served after a detoxifying treatment. These dishes are typically lower in fat and prepared using fresh ingredients and cooking methods that do not result in the loss of nutrients, such as poaching and grilling.

TANGERINE

The restaurant at Espa, the spa at Resorts World Sentosa, melds Western and Asian flavours.

Tangerine is helmed by consulting chef Ian Kittichai, who is a celebrity chef from Thailand.

On the menu are the Thai-inspired sous vide pork ($18+), a lightly pan-fried barramundi fillet ($28+) and a gluten-free chocolate mousse ($18+, photo) made with 70 per cent dark chocolate and beancurd.

The restaurant is open to the public, while guests who sign up for one of the spa retreat packages enjoy a two-course meal as part of their package. Prices start from $380 for a day retreat. Where: Espa, 8 Sentosa Gateway, Resorts World Sentosa, Level 1 Open: 11.30am to 10pm, Tuesday to Sunday. Closed on Monday except on public holiday Info: Call 6577-6688 or go to www.rwsentosa.com/Homepage/Restaurants/CelebrityChefs/Tangerine

ALLIGATOR PEAR

Guests who opt for the Detoxifying Day Spa treatment ($598+) at the Willow Stream Spa at Fairmont Singapore will enjoy a two-course lunch prepared by poolside restaurant Alligator Pear. Options include tomato salad with white balsamic dressing and smoked salmon; wild mushroom wrap with cheddar cheese and chipotle aioli; and white chocolate-lemon brownies. Where: Fairmont Singapore, 80 Bras Basah Road, Level 8 Open: Noon to 6pm daily for ala carte menu Info: Call 6431-5600 or go to www.fairmont.com/singapore/willow-stream/

JIANG-NAN CHUN

The Chinese restaurant in Four Seasons Hotel Singapore has come up with a four-course menu for the hotel's One Day Wellness Package (from $180+).

Items on the menu include: baked sea perch on egg custard, ginger and broth (photo); poached baby spinach with Japanese black garlic and cordyceps flower; and avocado cream with coconut sorbet and osmanthus jelly. Where: Four Seasons Hotel Singapore, 190 Orchard Boulevard, Level 2 Open: 11.30am to 2.30pm and 6 to 10.30pm daily Info: The package is valid till the end of next month. Call 6831-7400 or go to www.fourseasons.com/singapore/spa/events_and_promotions/


g.spa

The spa lowdown: Whether you are aching for a massage or have the munchies at 2am, the doors at lifestyle hub g.spa are open.

Opened in 2009, the spa spans 24,300 sq ft and two storeys and is modelled after the massive spas in China where patrons can spend a day enjoying a massage, eating, taking a dip in the jacuzzi or catching up on sleep.

Treatments range from facials to massages with a focus on Chinese meridian treatment. For example, the G Golf treatment, catering to golfers, soothes tension in the muscles.

Guests can chill out at two relaxation lounges that are filled with plush recliners. Each comes with a personal 20-inch screen showing movies or TV shows. Patrons can also play games on them.

On the food menu: The heart of the spa is its dining area, where customers can enjoy a free flow of hawker favourites such as chicken rice, wonton mee, laksa and nasi lemak.

The menu changes weekly and typically has 12 food items and juices, tea, coffee and soft drinks.

In addition, there is a rotating daily special of Western food, such as pork chops or fish and chips.

Where: 02-02, 102 Guillemard Road Open: 24 hours daily Admission: From standard rate of $68 for 24-hour access, which includes all the food you can eat. Treatments are charged separately, starting from $130 Info: Call 6280-8988 or go to www.gspa.com.sg


Calla Spa

The spa lowdown: At this 10,000 sq ft spa opened in March, guests can choose packages that allow them to spend two hours, four hours or a full day there.

All three packages include unlimited use of the spa's facilities - a mineral pool, a steam room and a sauna. There are also relaxation lounges featuring cushy recliner chairs, each with its own 20-inch screen.

Patrons pay extra for a massage, facial, body wrap or scrub. There are more than 20 treatments to pick from, including the Calla massage, a blend of Swedish massage, finger point pressure and lymph node movement.

On the food menu: The bistro serves a mix of Chinese, European and Japanese cuisines, with the menu changing weekly.

Dishes include wild mushroom soup with truffle oil, soft shell crab salad, grilled ribeye with wasabi brown sauce and vegetables, and vanilla panna cotta.

Depending on the package, guests are entitled to a free flow of certain items on the menu.

All three packages include starters and salads. For the whole-day bundle, guests get an unlimited pick of entrees, desserts and one choice of a meat, fish or vegetable dish.

Where: Suntec City Mall Tower 2, North Wing, 3 Temasek Boulevard, 01-500 Open: 10am to 11pm daily Admission: Pick from basic packages that cost $29, $58 or $78, and add on for treatments. The prices are part of an ongoing promotion Info: Call 6336-2552 or go to callaspa.com.sg


Yunomori Onsen & Spa

The spa lowdown: Say konichiwa to this onsen that boasts six pools for men and five for women - bubble bath, soda spa where the water is carbon dioxide-rich, jet bath, silk bath, cold bath and hot bath (for men only).

Except for the cold bath which is set at 17 to 19 deg C and hot bath at 41 to 44 deg C, the temperatures of the others hover between 38.5 and 41 deg C.

Guests can use the facilities for as long as they want. However, there might be queues in the later part of the day as more patrons trickle in.

There are massage options too, from traditional Thai to aroma oil massages.

On the food menu: With its minimalist decor, The Yunomori Cafe can join the ranks of hipster cafes in Singapore.

The menu features more than 30 food items, including curry rice, tempura, donburi, udon and an onsen tamago (poached egg). Prices start from $2.

For those who want to cool down, tuck into kakigori, a Japanese shaved ice dessert. It comes in four flavours, including strawberry and Hokkaido matcha (from $4.50).

Or learn from the Japanese and drink a packet of Hokkaido Specially Select 3.6 Milk, specially flown in from the province famous for its dairy products.

Drinking milk after a bath is a common practice in onsens across Japan to cool down.

Where: Kallang Wave Mall, 1 Stadium Place, 02-17 Open: 10am to 11pm daily Cost: Entrance into the onsen is $38+ for adults and $28+ for children aged two to 15 and senior citizens who are 65 and older. Massages start from $38+ for a 30-minute foot or head and shoulder massage. Food costs from $2 for an onsen tamago Info: Call 6386-4126/6385-7985 or go to www.yunomorionsen.com

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 22, 2016, with the headline 'Massage, eat, play, rest'. Print Edition | Subscribe